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Old 02-02-2014, 02:06 PM
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Unhappy Stress Bars/Black Edges

Well, I know I'm the millionth person to post about this, but I am just out of ideas to help Pepper with his feathers!
He definitely has stress bars and I just don't know why.
I can hear when he's grooming that he will get to the end of his feather and kind of chew it. I wonder if that has something to do with it? But when he came to me from the rescue, his feathers were beautiful! Ugh...I feel awful because I can't figure out what's happening!!

He has a great diet-he's been on Roudy for 2 years (& possibly before that-he's a rescue). He also gets wonderfully healthy birdie bread every day (from organic buckwheat flour and all organic baby food, etc.) I also give him a spoonful of baby food every morning (usually buy the ones high in Vitamin A-carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.) and sometimes he gets it before he goes to sleep. He's not a huge fan of fresh veggies-but he will sometimes eat them off my plate. He thinks raw quinoa is seed, so he has that sometimes. He eats pecans every once in awhile. Loves them. He always has fresh water. He's spoiled in the diet department, for sure.

He has plenty of toys to shred and destroy-he loves the wooden ones. He spends the majority of the time out of the cage-he has cathedral ceilings with high windows to perch and look out at the other birds. He is fully flighted so he gets to stretch his wings He usually just likes to sit with me quietly.

He takes baths between once and twice a week-he's picky-doesn't like the shower too much and doesn't like to be misted. He takes a bath in the sink, but only when he's in the mood-I try more often than he actually bathes...

He has a full spectrum UV light on his cage-it's where it's supposed to be positioned, etc. But because he doesn't spend a lot of time in his cage, maybe it's not helping as much as it could? I'm trying to have him spend some more time in his cage for the light. When it's warmer, we are usually outside for at least 10-15 minutes every day, sometimes longer.

His cage is in the living room in front of big bright windows. He goes to bed usually between 6:30 and 8 and sleeps anywhere from 8-10 a.m. the next morning. Here's my concern: We are still up and using the living room when he's trying to sleep-could that be a problem?? We sometimes don't go to sleep until 9 or 10 and sometimes he'll ring a bell violently or squawk if we're being too loud for him. I was considering moving his cage to the spare bedroom instead and buying him a playstand to have in the living room-thoughts?

I did have two QP's that I had to rehome because they were just violently mean to Pepper. It was really sad :/ Hard decision, but they are in a great home! I wonder if Pepper is upset at not having bird companions anymore? He didn't interact with them (because they were just awful to him), but IDK-it's been a year since they went to their new home.

No other pets in the house-no kids. It's pretty quiet and he's definitely spoiled. I just don't know what else I can do for him

And any tweaks or suggestions for things we could/shouldn't be doing?
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:56 PM
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Re: Stress Bars/Black Edges

I was going to say it must be diet related but from what you've listed, he seems to be on a good diet already. Perhaps you can introduce more fresh veggie and fruits. If he is not crazy about them, try feeding first thing in the morning or when you come home, when he's most hungry. Then feed his regular stuff. Try with sure fire hits like red bell pepper core with the seeds, organic corn (not the greatest food but just a start), mango, apple. If possible, try to get more vitamin A in him for plumage, beak and skin health. You can also buy this vitamin A supplement, red palm oil. It has been okayed by my A vet in moderate amounts.

Is he highly active so as to cause wear and tear on his feathers? Usually feather discoloration from diet is distinct from discoloration acquired from regular wear and tear. Maybe you could take a good picture so we could have a better look at the stress bars.

PS. Also this is a touchy subject but the benefits of full spectrum bulbs as marketed for use in captive birds are questionable. Just my opinion but I have stopped relying on it for vitamin D and only use it for illumination. The more I read about it, the more I realized that it can not give our birds their vitamin D synthesis needs. Good old sunlight, if even for short amounts each week, is better. But this is not a closed subject, so take my opinion as just that, an opinion The good news from my A vet is, he sees more vitamin A deficiency in captive birds than he does vitamin D (and hence calcium) deficiency. If you are into breeding birds, it might be a different scenario. He said that the vitamin D found in pellets or vitamin drops is usually sufficient with a bit of sunlight. My A vet has been practicing since the 70s so I am hoping he is right. It is easy to compensate for vitamin A than it is vitamin D.
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Last edited by BoomBoom; 02-02-2014 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 02-02-2014, 10:09 PM
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Re: Stress Bars/Black Edges

From my understanding, stress bars develop as the feather develops, so those stress bars probably formed when the feathers were just pin feathers. And they can be caused just by actual stress...a move/rehome, the birds terrorizing him like you described, etc. Feather bronzing occurs when the feathers get old, worn, or over-preened. See how he looks after his next moult. Sounds like he's living a good life, so you should see some improvement. Stress bars can also be nutritional, but I agree with BoomBoom that you have it together in that dept, maybe just a little more varied diet is in order as well.
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